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I’d like to acknowledge the following people, without who’s
ideas and inspiration this book would not have come about:
Sheila Broun, Hannibal the Cannibal, Tracy Kennedy, Dave
Lee, Colin Millard, Rodney Orpheus, Rich Westwood, and
For Paul, with love & kisses
Touched by Fire © Phil Hine 1989, Pagan News
This conversion to Acrobat PDF March 1998.
Phil Hine
Introduction ......................................................... 5
Personal Reflections on Urban Shamanism ...... 7
Staking out the Territory.................................... 13
Social Wounds ................................................... 26
Magi-Prop ......................................................... 31
Looking to the Future?...................................... 36
Postscript ........................................................... 38
Activate The Bear: It’s A Teenage Rampage! ... 40
TimeWind........................................................... 43

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Also Published:
Condensed Chaos, New Falcon Publications 1995
Prime Chaos, Chaos International 1993
The Pseudonomicon, Dagon Productions 1997
In Adobe Acrobat For mat (Somewhere on the WWW):
Oven-Ready Chaos
Running Magical Workshops: Notes for Facilitators
Group Ego-Magick Exercises
Awaiting Conversion:
Walking Between The Worlds: Techniques of Modern
Shamanism Vol.1
Two Worlds & Inbetween: The Worlds: Techniques of Modern
Shamanism Vol.2
Chaos Servitors: A User Guide
The aim of this book is to go some way towards exploring the
evolving perspective of ‘Urban Shamanism’. It’s not really a
training manual like its predecessors, but gives one viewpoint
(mine) on tackling the problem of living and acting from a
broadly shamanic stance, within a city culture. Starting out with
the premise that shamanic work is less of a purely personal trip
and more related to the recovery of a functional role that
individuals may come to play in their community, I have tried
to present a clear picture of my own approach, in the hope that
it may point others to explore what remains, largely, unknown
This book does not offer any prescriptive solutions to the
problems it highlights - we tend to look for easy solutions to
problems almost before we’ve fully grasped what’s going on.
I’m more interested in the development of approaches to
situations, which ultimately, gives a more flexible approach.
Magick, for me, is a way of enhancing survival in our
environment, whether it be open countryside or inner city. There
is a race of gnomes, so the story goes, who believe that nothing
is possible; and there is a sect of magicians who believe that
everything is. Shamanism in its original form developed from
early human approaches to survival and evolution. We seem to
have reached a point in our collective story where we must
make a drastic evolutionary leap, in order to continue. Shamanic
techniques, and a broad, shamanic outlook can help us here.
Some sections of this book are to be taken as ‘atmospheric’
text, as some of the sense that I’m trying to put over can only be
sidled up to sideways. Also, there isn’t space here to describe all
the different techniques I’m discussing, so it’s up you to do some
follow-up work. It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s taken me 14
years of magickal training, group work, academic work and

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constant activity to get to the point of writing this, and half the
time I still feel like a novice in new territory.
Personal Reflections on Urban Shamanism
Back in ’87, I wrote a brief article for Moonshine on the subject
of ‘urban shamanism’, tentatively asking the question Can we
be Urban Shamans?” - and if so, how do you go about it?
Three years on and I’ve managed to glean a few personal
answers, only to find yet more questions waiting in the wings.
One option is to become involved with the weekend workshop
scene - first as a learner, then as a trainer. It seems to help if you
train under someone who’s a ‘name’, and then pick up a few
credentials such as ‘fourth gateway pipe-carrier’, then go an get
an alternative therapy qualification, add the magic word
“shamanic” to your practice, and away you go. It’s also worth
considering a name-change; anything with the words ‘crystal’,
‘rainbow’, or ‘Moondancer’ in it is a safe bet. Moving to London
or Glastonbury is also worth thinking about, since there probably
isn’t much call for chakra masseurs in Batley!
The current ‘glamour’ of shamanism has a very ethnic gloss
to it. Reading between the lines one can feel the search for a
sense of stability, permanence, or connection with the past; whilst
around us the rate of social change seems to accelerate every
day. No longer psychically bound to our cultural landscape, we
can choose from myriad shards of belief, from the wisdom based
on historical traditions, to the myths of rehashed/recovered
knowledge. Our society is becoming too big for us to handle, as
individuals. The total symbolisation of the environment means
that we are rapidly approaching information overload, whilst
the social control systems of culture are fast becoming truly
esoteric. In the midst of all this chaos, it is easy to understand
and share the yearning for a simpler existence, where all is, at
least, potentially apprehendable.
The other way to developing a shamanic stance is to burrow
your way into a community and become a ‘useful’ person.

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‘Useful’ people are those who everyone else tells you to go and
see when you’ve a particular problem, be it blocked drains, the
DSS, or “there’s something ‘orrible lurking in the cellar - what
do you think it is?” It’s surprising how many people have
‘psychic’ or otherwise unexplainable experiences that they don’t
let out to just anyone, for fear of incredulity or perhaps, too
much credulity from others. Many people tend to view their
experiences of the weird as signs of possible aberration - if you
can assure them that this isn’t so; that “it happens all the time”
(perhaps relating a similar incident that you know about), then
you’re well on your way to becoming a ‘useful person’. I recall
that one of my first ‘big breaks’ at being classed as ‘useful’ by
my peers came up over a well-known haunted house. I heard
tales of moving carpets, banging doors & creeping presences
on the stairs; and promptly stayed the night there with it’s sole
remaining resident. Word must have spread on the grapevine,
as people started to seek me out (not in droves, mind you) to
come and look at the things in their flats & houses; do Tarot
readings, and generally talk about the intrusions of the uncanny
into their lives. I won’t pretend it’s a living, ‘cos it isn’t, but it is
rewarding in the sense of making connections, learning and
occasionally, getting into sticky situations.
Occasionally things do get nasty. One of my friends was
subjected to a week of threatening telephone calls, and then
received a really nasty curse object through the post. How do
you deal with this one? Well the obvious thing to do is some
kind of protection for those involved, backed up by what we
might call magickal (oh all right then, ‘shamanic’...) counselling;
what they can do to protect themselves, how the curse operates
and what signs to look out for, and finally, dealing with the
curse itself, and, if you can find them, the perpetrators. Again,
there’s more of this sort of thing going on than you might expect,
and while most of it is done by amateurs, that doesn’t mean to
say it isn’t effective.
Psychic Attack is another example. Most psychic attack is self-
induced, meaning that someone thinks that the black lodge down
the road is sending malign blasts at them (goddess knows why),
which eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, even if the
black lodge turn out to out not to exist after all. From my
experience, it seems that most psychic attack, like rape and child
abuse, is carried out by people who are known to the victim;
such as ex-, or even current lovers. It’s not enough being able to
recognise the signs, you should know the methods of dealing
with it as well. It can be life-threatening, especially if someone
is becoming suicidal, or so confused that they step out in front
of a car one day. Something which occasionally crops up, and
may well be on the increase, is pagans being prayed over in
relays by groups of born-again fundamentalists. A variant is
people who get involved with some f orm of occultism or
paganism (or indeed any lifestyle that parents or ‘friends’ find
threatening) and find themselves being prayed over, exorcised,
and generally told that they are possessed by the the devil. Or
mad. In my book, this amounts to psychic attack just as much as
having a poppet of yourself prodded with pins - having your
newly-found belief system or self-image forcefully battered by
someone who is 110% sure that they’re right and you need
saving can lead to severe trauma.
This probably sounds like racy stuff, but its all happening out
there. Magick is alive and well and being practised in the suburbs,
squats, and housing estates. There’s an infinite plurality of
approach, which is partly why I don’t stick to one system
exclusively - having an eclectic approach, and being adaptable
to new situations is more useful for me.
Healing takes up a large part of my ‘work’, and is usually the
most difficult. There are some things I can do, and some things
I can’t, and its usually a wise move to say to someone that you
don’t know the fine details of a subject, but can possibly
recommend someone who does. Having a background in
allopathic medicine helps here, as in the case of people who
want to know more about the drugs they’ve been prescribed, or
the drugs they’ve acquired in other ways. Healing tends to
involve counselling, trance induction, working with body
energies, teaching relaxation & centering exercises, getting spirits
to take care of specific problems, and occasionally, ritual work.
Different clients respond to different approaches - some respond
better to full-blown ritual, while others prefer light trance work

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with minimal trappings. Of course, much depends on the
situation & the problem.
The flipside of shamanic work is dealing out retribution of
one kind or another. Historically, and in existing shamanic
cultures, it’s accepted that the shaman/ka occasionally has to
roll up their sleeves and get stuck into a situation that’s, shall we
say, murky. Turning curses back onto the people who sent them
out in the first place is the prime example. The occult is full of
people who think they can get away with anything, and do,
until someone else puts their foot down. Let’s take an example.
A friend of mine had his car stolen. It was recovered, but the
thieves had taken some items which had great sentimental value.
He wanted me to throw a scare into them - not a smoking boot
job or anything, but to impress on them that stealing cars was
not a nice thing to do. In the end, I set up the situation so that
he was the one who gave the thieves a fright by turning up in
their dreams. Anyone who’s gasping in horror reading this
should be aware that this sort of incident is rare - but then
again, people in our community tend to stick up for one another.
If I’m asked to help out in a situation, I will, and consider it my
function in the community. Many situations are unsavoury, but
by steadying each other through the bad times, we learn to
appreciate the good times even more. All the same, such activities
should never be undertaken lightly.
For me, the basics of the urban shamanic approach require
an ability to adapt in the face of necessity. When walking into a
new situation, like as not armed only with my thunderbolt, tarot,
and notepad, I try and find my ‘point of power’ from which to
act - the role I will play in the unfolding of events: upfront
support or backstage prompt. Once I have found the point from
which to work, I try and stick to it - knowing that that’s the best
way for me to influence the situation (of course it’s rarely that
simple). What I can actually do in a given situation is partly
defined by my clients. A first step is to look for possible loopholes
in what, on the face of it, is a no-win situation. Extreme situations
usually require extreme strategies, and people are generally more
interested in results than intellectual niceties.
As I have said, I don’t use just one approach to shamanic
magick - I use whatever seems necessary to get the job done.
This colours my writing, and I’m far more interested in putting
across the general understanding of a subject than describing
prescriptive solutions. This is because situations will always
outstrip existing prescriptions. The complexity of working in a
city easily outstrips current magical realities. They may be great
for connecting you with a sense of continued tradition, putting
you back in contact with inner wisdom, natural cycles, or eternal
archetypes, but often, they don’t help you deal with the wild
cards thrown up at you by the urban jungle. Example: A 23
year old junkie who desperately needs to detox before her heart
quits on her asks you to help her “magically”. Any good
answers?; I’d like to hear them, ‘cos exorcising a house is peanuts
compared with human problems. Meeting up with other people’s
horrors is instructive - it stops you dramatising your own inner
conflicts into cosmic catastrophes.
Intervention can of itself, become an addiction. Eventually
you’ll fetch up with a situation that no matter what you do, you
can’t do anything to help out. Trying only makes it worse. Once
you manage to convince yourself that you’re a shaman, healer
or whatever, and continue to feed that smug little thought, then
watch out. You may go rushing in and unwittingly screw things
up even more. An acquaintance got addicted to giving hugs.
Everyone got big, jolly, reassurance hugs. Now don’t get me
wrong, I like a good hug myself, but it’s not always appropriate,
especially when the person’s body language is screaming “Don’t
touch me.” Look before you leap in; at the situation, the people,
and yourself.
Information-gathering is of prime importance. You can never
have too much of it. I’ll talk to anyone or anything, from familiar
spirits to social workers, if it will give me a clearer picture or
throw up a different slant. All data is potentially valuable, even
if, on the surface, it’s got nothing to do with the matter in hand.
Our cities are myths; constantly rewriting themselves and
spawning our demons; incest, rape, child abuse, drugs, poverty.
Besides these ‘beings’, anything you can tempt into a porta-
triangle is nothing by comparison. Yet we don’t seem to have a
magical approach to the complexities of city-life. We’ve hardly

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begun to touch the psychic complexities of urban living; how it
affects us and generates weird elementals and semi-sentient
nexuses of energy. It seems to me that we spend too much time
searching for a connection with the past, whilst doing our best
to ignore that we are hurtling at breakneck speed into the future.
For me, magick, call it shamanic or whatever you like, is a
way of improving our ability to survive - as individuals, and in
groups. Shamans help their community to survive and develop,
which in turn helps their own progression. I suspect its a
vocational calling, where the return comes back as love, support,
and mutual trust. Some things, like the need to be warm and
hold someone else, are eternal, whether you live in a cave or
council house.
Staking out the Territory
To begin with, I’ll clear up two questions regarding the Urban
Shamanic perspective. These are; a) What roles/functions can
the shamanic practitioner aspire to, and b) What is the territory
in which they are carried out - i.e. what do I mean by
Firstly, let’s examine some shamanic roles, examples of which
might be: Sorceror, Mythographer, Therapist, Sacred Fool, Priest,
Artist, Musician, Poet. A short list, but there’s a hell of a lot
involved in those roles; after all, developing the skills and insights
of any one of them can take a lifetime. Let’s say that the
difference would be that a shaman, for example, takes on all of
those roles whilst remaining, essentially, a shaman. That’s quite
different to, for example, an artist who occasionally does
‘shamanic’ pictures, or a therapist who uses one or two shamanic
“Sorcery is the art of capturing spirits and training them to work in
harness, of sorting out our powers of mind so we might manipulate
them and make them cause changes both within our minds and beyond
Stephen Mace, Stealing the Fire from Heaven
Sorcerers work with spirits, and use their abilities to cause
changes in the world. By ‘spirit’, I mean any non-organic entity
that has some degree of individuality, from the little beings who
flit around poorly-insulated power sockets, to the Goddesses &
Gods who’ve been around for thousands of millenia and aren’t
about to let you forget it. All the different approaches to shamanic
techniques have their own rules about spirits; how to contact

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them, treat them and get them to do things for you and so forth,
but as a general guideline I’d say treat them with respect and, if
you’re not quite sure where you stand with them, a little bit of
caution. Just like other people or unfamiliar animals really. Some
spirits are quite wary of humans, while others will seem to us as
mischievous or downright malicious. What is generally agreed
on is that quite a lot of them like doing things for us. Without
getting too metaphysical about it, it seems that spirits don’t have
the same kind of individuality that we do, and so by working
with us highly individualistic beings, they acquire a ‘persona’ -
in terms of a name, appearance, sigil, and something to do,
and eventually a ‘life history’ of their own. By feeding them
energy, they grow in power and eventually, can become
independent of the person who created them in the first place.
Now I realise that that’s a very simplified explanation, but I’ll
deal more fully with spirit work in another volume.
So, having made the point that spirits are all around us, let’s
have a look at some of their uses. Most spirit-work that I tend
to do is healing; enhancing a person’s capabilities to fight off an
illness and speed their recovery, by creating a spirit specifically
to deal with that person. Spirits tend to be good at increasing
the probability of something happening, given that it’s possible
in terms of a particular situation. For example, you could make
a spirit with the purpose of helping someone get a job, for
example. However, if that person had no real motivation towards
seeking employment and stayed in the house all day, then the
chance of the spirit being able to manifest a positive result would
be much less. Thus, in this case, you might reason that the real
problem wasn’t so much related to ‘getting a job’, but to apathy,
lack of self-confidence or fear of the necessary life-changes
employment would entail. It could be that your spirit working
would have more success with one of these components of the
situation. Hence the necessity to assess a particular situation so
that your actions breed the most effective results.
Another aspect of spirit-working is the making of amulets
objects which have a spirit bound into them so that they enhance
a particular quality such as health, courage, or restful sleep.
Amulets are always in much demand, with the predominate
trend at the moment being towards using crystals as the material
Using divinatory techniques is probably the most obvious skills
connected with shamanism in a modern setting. As soon as word
gets around that you can read the runes, cards, or palms, you
can guarantee a steady flow of people wanting readings. One-
to-one sessions can lead to counselling and problem-solving.
For example, I use the four tarot suits to break down a situation
as follows: Wands - ideas/motivations; Cups - Overall view or
desired result; Swords - can the problem be broken down into
managable steps; Disks - Actions that need to be carried out.
Looking at a problem using this procedure may involve goal-
setting and teaching the client how to draw energy or advice
from appropriate spirits bound up into the cards. Such sessions
can also be a useful point to look at any established coping
patterns that need to be identified and modified; or to teach
methods of relaxation and Centering.
A second use of divination systems is to examine a situation
in terms of its different facets, the people involved, what spirits
dominate it, and what role you play in it. I mentioned this in
the introduction - the necessity of being able to ‘place’ yourself
within a situation so that you know from what point to act - if
indeed you should be involved at all. This is part of the
assessment procedure. You can appear to others to be a bystander
in a series of events, but still be influencing the outcome, or, at
the other extreme, you can be rushing about being everyone’s
crying shoulder and up all hours of the night. Once you find
your place of power, you should stick to it, unless a drastic change
A third role for your divinatory abilities is ‘sensing change’ in
a broad way. Rather than focusing awareness onto a set of
symbols, this comes to me in those moments of no-thought as I
wander the streets. The clues are fleeting and diverse - a slow
build-up of ‘something’s about to happen’ which may be hinted

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at by the creaking of a wrought-iron gate and the simultaneous
blare of horns; by the suddenly-understood shapes made by
the flocks of starlings who fling themselves across the buildings
in city square; the sense sneaks in sideways. With time, you can
recognise the truth-sense sweeping you up, and be prepared to
play and reel in the fragments - a name, a place, how bad it’s
going to be this time. In its pure form this is known as prescience.
Noticing coincidences is one route towards this state; after all
‘coincidence’ means two events which happen in harmony with
each other.
Essentially, there are two approaches to divination; the first is
the formalised symbol systems of the Tarot, I Ching, or Runes,
and the second is the more free-form approach which uses black
mirrors, pendulums and automatic drawing. You can also use
spirits to help in seeking knowledge, either as Familiars residing
in objects, pictures, or freely mobile, or by seeking contact with
them in Innerworld exploration via trance techniques. Rather
than concentrate on one method, I’d say it was a good idea to
use as many different approaches as possible - that way you
have a flexible response to meet differing needs. A very practical
example is in the case of losing things. Several times I’ve gone
round to people’s houses only to find them frantically turning
the living room upside down as they’ve lost the ..... (any number
of things). I’ve missed out numerous occasions with which to
earn undying gratitude and appreciation because I didn’t have
a pendulum handy, nor have. at the time, a spirit who could
reliably find things (I used to have, but he doesn’t live with me
any more).
Mention exorcism and you’ll see people instantly conjuring
mental pictures of children vomiting and being able to rotate
their heads 360° whilst intoning in a deep voice “I’m the
devillll....” ahem. Basically though, there’s two situations where
exorcism becomes necessary, where spirits are bothering places
or objects, or people. Probably the most popular form of
disturbance is haunted houses/flats/basements. Disturbance by
what? you might ask. Good question. I once worked in a hospital
which had a haunted ward. The regular staff kept a ‘ghost book’
in which all uncanny happenings were reported - what was seen,
heard or felt; at what time did this occur; and in what part of
the ward. The general opinion was that the ‘ghosts’ were the
confused shades of ex-patients wandering about. This sounded
plausible, as ‘things’ did wander about, occasionally entering
the nurses residence and disturbing people’s sleep. On another
occasion, I spent several nights in a haunted house which had a
heavy, depressing gloom about the place - no one lived there
very long and there was rumour of a suicide there years ago.
The last night, I was woken from a fitful sleep by the ‘echo’ of a
thick, sluggish, bubbling, and dimly perceived a faintly glowing
shape in the far corner of the room. The nearest I can describe
it is as a skinned horse’s head with a suggestion of a slug-like
body. I only glimpsed this apparition for a second (and believe
me, that was far too long) but the sense of a malevolent presence
was overwhelming. Needless to say, I beat a hasty retreat and
haven’t visited the place since. Enough anecdotes. I don’t have
an overall theory for explaining such occurrences, but some
tactical approaches are useful.
This is a firstly a matter of asking some searching questions,
such as; How long has the disturbance been going on?; in what
ways does it manifest?; how many people have experienced it?;
is it localised to one spot or does it move around?; does it happen
at any particular times?; has the place had a past history of such
occurences?; what do the clients think is causing the disturbance?
A case I recall that illustrates the importance of asking the
right questions concerned a house where the tenants were
experiencing some upsetting disturbances - footsteps in the
corridor, being touched by invisible hands, and doors that
unlatched themselves. They believed that the source for the
disturbances was a previous tenant who had killed herself. On
the surface, this sounded plausible enough, but subsequent
digging around revealed that one of the present tenants had a
history of such phenomena - they seemed to follow her
wherever she went, so it was more likely that the source of the

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manifestations was from her own Deep Mind. A placebo
exorcism was performed to generally calm down the tensions
in the house, whereas the core of the case involved investigation
of the person who’s own errant spirits were the source of the
disturbance. This involved referral to another magician who
had trained in hypnotherapy.
Once you’ve built up as much detail from your clients, you
can then investigate the situation more deeply. Freeform
divination techniques such as using a black mirror might be
useful, as might spending time in the place seeing what
impressions you can pick up. If the spirit likes to bang things
about it might be a good idea to stretch cotton across objects or
door-frames; sometimes, a pendulum suspended from a stand
of some kind can be used as an indicator of something
appearing. In this sort of situation, any trick which you can
devise which you think will be helpful is worth trying out.
Assuming that you’ve established that there is something
lurking around, where do you go from there? Assuming that
you can’t ring the local branch of ‘Ghostbusters’, the next step
is to decide what should be done. Probably the most obvious
thing is to go in with wands blazing and try and zap the thing
into ectoplasm; but it’s a more sensible approach if you try and
make contact with the spirit, for example using a technique such
as scrying, being ‘open’ to impressions, or having a third party
present to act as an independent observer.
The main function that a priest of any religion plays is that of
intercession between congregation and divinity. Both the high
church priest and the Voudoun Houngan are playing the same
role - master (or mistress) of ceremonies at a meeting where
worshippers may converse (to differing degrees of directness)
with their divinities.
For the modern shaman, one of the likely manifestations of
this role is being asked to perform pagan marriages (usually
known as hand-fasting); naming ceremonies (of children, or re-
naming of adults), house blessings; initiations, and the like. A
less than serious example of the latter is that I was privileged to
ordain the first Erisian Papess of York. How one ‘scripts’ such
events is purely a matter of taste and experience. Another level
of such a role is being the mc at a communal gathering - whether
this be a drum-in, solstice celebration or acid-house party. This
is closest to the shamanic function of leading ecstatic ceremony,
which can range from tribal dance rituals to group psychedelic
experiences. In this situation, it is the shaman who leads the
dance, or sets the parameters for the hallucinogen-aided
innerworld journey, thus acting as a guide between the worlds.
The shaman leads others, or opens the doorways into the dream-
tracks of the inner landscape and the Mythic World. (I’ll come
back to this in more detail when looking at the Shaman as
Healer). Group ecstasy is a powerful source of energy, so much
so that our culture only permits ‘acceptable’ outlets - take for
example the continuing furore over Stonehenge, free festivals,
and acid house parties. This is not an age where ‘frienzied rites’
(such as the Greek Bachannalia for example) are frowned upon.
Useful skills to acquire for this kind of situation would be
drumming, dancing, learning a few chants, using (and making)
musical instruments, and enthusing/inspiring groups of people
to get together, drum and chant. It’s simple, it’s fun, anybody
can join in, and such events are wonderful for strengthening
bonds, beginning friendships, raising energy, and for having a
good time. Time for a word about leadership. Anyone who
tries to ‘direct’ an open festival gathering by ‘organising’
everyone else into a particular sort of ritual will only generate
argument and insults. In many situations, it’s not a good idea to
try and visibly lead the direction an event takes. A more
successful approach is for example, when sitting around a fire,
begin a drum beat or chant and let others take it up (or if
everyone’s too spaced out, let it drop off). Obviously, some events
will need more conscious direction than others, and will require
more stage-managers - other shamans, or perhaps people acting
as spirit-helpers. An obvious parallel to this is the shaman as
rock ‘n’ roller.

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Death is one of the greatest taboos from which our culture
cringes. There are a vast variety of beliefs about death and what
(if anything) happens afterwards. Reincarnation; Eternal
Damnation; The survival of the Personality; all act as supports
for much of our behaviour and ego-complex whilst currently
alive. If, rather than believing that if you sin you’ll be eternally
cast into the fires of Hell, you believe that what you do at present
has no possible effect on your next incarnation; it’s quite likely
to affect how you go around behaving. As we go through life,
our ideas about death change as we go have different experiences
and get exposed to different ideas and beliefs. Strangely enough,
in times of bereavement, one’s parentally (and socially) acquired
conditioning about death reasserts itself - usually in terms of
taboo and social behaviour concerning how to act around
bereaved people - all too often, unfortunately, this can manifest
as people
staying away, or not allowing others enough space to mourn.
Some psychiatrists for example (helpful as ever) seem to think
that if a person mourns for a longer period of time than
‘average’, then this is an indicator of mental breakdown. For
the modern shaman, brushes with death can involve you with
anything from appearing at funerals, counselling the still-living,
and perhaps even a rite to guide or celebrate the bodiless spirit
to its meeting with the guardians of the lands of the dead. To
perform this latter task is known as acting as a Psychopomp. In
getting to grips with counselling, then some form of course is
probably in order, as bereavement counselling is a delicate art.
One sort of shamanic priest, in discussing death, may discuss
different beliefs about death, while another sort might choose
to favour their particular chosen or favourite set of beliefs about
the subject. Again, this is a personal matter for each individual.
Invocation is a battery of magical techniques which, when used,
allow the individual to identify with a particular entity so
passionately, that some quality or attribution associated with
that entity manifests in the person - such as enhanced oracular
perception or ‘hidden lore’. While this ability may be developed
by anyone who practises magick, most people don’t do it, and
thus a shamanic practitioner may be asked to act as the
incarnation of a particular entity as part of an event - or to
bring about a similar experience in another person - ‘invoking
upon someone’, as it is known. An extreme degree of this type
of trance is possession, which, while quite common in shamanic
cultures, is rarely found in modern approaches to ritual. It is
not uncommon, for example, for a Voudoun Houngan or
Mambo to search out ‘hidden lore’ (i.e. knowledge) by allowing
themselves to be ‘ridden’ by entities (known as Loa) who speak
through them, providing the answer. More common, in our
culture, is the phenomena of overshadowing, where the
individual’s awareness is partially submerged in that of the entity.
This also happens to actors, who sometimes find that, while
playing a particular role, become so identified with that role
that they, while on stage, can perform tasks - such as singing or
dancing - that are associated with the character, but that they
themselves are not usually able to do. This is no different from
magical invocation, and the techniques involved are virtually
the same - visualisation, speech, gestures, posture, and other
senses - particularly smell for example, with regard to incense
or essential oils. The shaman, to some extent, is also responsible
for instructing people in how the gods behave - in many cultures,
spirits (masks wearing human bodies or spirits riding human
bodies) are thought to be above the law, or can behave in ways
that are unacceptable under normal circumstances.
The shamanic role of Healer has received a great deal of
attention from the pundits of the current vogue in new age
shamanism - almost to the extent that other shamanic roles have
become obscured. ‘Shamanic’ therapies abound, as the glamour
of the shamanic stance has been taken on board by the new
age/human growth schools. The growing dissatisfaction with

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allopathic medicine is leading more and more people to seek
alternative approaches to dealing with health problems.
Being able to ‘listen’ to others is one of the primary skills of
any healer. We often get so caught up with what we want to say
in a conversation that we miss out on what others are actually
saying. A good exercise in this respect is to try listening to what
someone else is saying to you, whilst keeping your mind blank
of thoughts - thus stopping your replies leaping out of your
mouth before you’ve fully digested what has been said. It takes
practice to listen with attention, and then yet more practice to
give an appropriate answer. Some people are good at this
naturally, while for others some form of formal counselling
training might well be appropriate.
A great deal has been written about the shaman as healer by
other people, so I’m not going to add much more to the weight
of words in other books. Suffice to say that healing is more
difficult that you might think, and should always be approached
realistically. By this I mean that if you try and take on a problem
which deep down, you know you can’t do much about, then it
is wiser to pass the person concerned to someone more
appropriate. If you do take a problem on, then make sure that
both you and your client know what the score is as to how
you’re going to approach the problem, and for how long your
relationship with them will last. Healing however, is a multi-
levelled process, and you’ll find elements of it cropping up in
other sections of this book.
Heal the Earth
Heal the Earth was the title of a mass ritual energy-raising, the
aim of which was to increase awareness of the global ecological
crisis. It was performed in Britain and Europe on the Summer
Solstice between 12 - 2pm (1987), and repeated as part of Sheila
Broun’s Listen to the Earth project on 9th April 1990.
Heal The Earth began as an idea - appearing in the midst of
a group of Leeds magia who were discussing the possibilities
afforded by poiliticised magick. If, as we are told, the clans
gathered together in the New Forest to work magick against the
threat of the Nazi invasion wasn’t it about time, we thought,
that we did something along the same lines? The original idea
was for a mass-ritual, co-ordinated through a group symbol or
image, and carried out by individuals and groups at the summer
Having grasped the original idea, we then took it around
other local pagans and asked for general feedback - and everyone
we talked to was very enthusiastic about the project taking off
and being a success. this helped gather impetus and energy
toward making it so.
Having begun to raise energy towards realising the project,
the next step was to consider the targetting of the ritual. We
discussed the idea of focusing on very specific political issues,
but eventually decided to go for a general raising of awareness
- a ripple across the human planetary mind.
Next, we designed the leaflet - magical artist Sheila Broun
very kindly allowed us to use her tarot design for the Ace of
Cups as the central image - through which the participants in
the rite could link up their efforts. The leaflet was worded to try
and get
the idea across in as succinct a way as possible, since we
wanted as many people as possible to join in. A description of
the qualities of the Ace of Cups was included, and a quote
from the Tao te Ching expressed perfectly what we were trying
to do:
“Under Heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water, Yet for
attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better - It has no equal.”
Lao Tzu.
Once the leaflet had been designed, we then utilised our network
contacts to reach as diverse a number of people as possible,
and leaflets were taken abroad by friends, displayed in shops
and windows as A4 and A3 posters, handed out at the
Glastonbury festival, and distributed at various gigs up and down
the country. Together, the Leeds group alone distributed over
7000 leaflets (later information revealed that over 2000 leaflets

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were distributed in total).
During the weeks running up to the Solstice, there was a
feeling of energy being raised in preparation for the event. I
spent the solstice period with other project members, drumming
for the two hours on Ilkley Moor, in a ritual dedicated to Arwen,
Goddess of inspiration. At various points, we all ‘saw’ and felt
the great current of energy pouring forth into the chalice which
was the focus for the energies.
Of course, this idea isn’t unique, and many different groups
have been organising mass ‘rituals’ for some time, and they are
becoming more popular.
Raising people’s awareness about an issue is probably more
effective than trying to influence such a global situation directly,
since to be able to act upon a problem requires conscious
awareness that there is a problem in the first place. Such acts
are empowering because we are conditioned into believing that
we are basically powerless to try and change such huge issues
individually. Participating in mass-workings reminds us that we
can be individually effective, and can contribute support in many
different ways. It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless
about major problems.
Probably one of the most important shamanic roles is that of
Mythographer - the person who remembers, interprets, and
extents the mythic pool of their community. Myths may well
have an eternal quality about them, but they are constantly
being rewritten, destroyed, and recovered. Joseph Campbell
said recently that our society desperately needed some new
myths. Not that there is a lack; just that modern myths have
become fragmented. Examples of how myths grow are not
difficult to find. While modern ‘shamanic’ writers dissect and
repackage the mythic structures of the Australian Aborigines,
for example, they are busy having dreams about cars and jet
aircraft - such things have always existed in the Dreamtime,
they say - it is just that they have only just begun to visit those
particular parts of the Dreaming. Shamans in surviving tribal
cultures are beginning to translate the icons and activities of us
‘civilised’ westerners into the mythic pools of their cultures, so
that their communities can accumulate all the better to the reality
shock of contact with technology. The sense of connection to
myths is important for our sense of continuance and stability,
which is increasingly important in a world where the pace of
social change is getting faster and faster. In our cultures, the role
of mythographer is often expressed through the medium of
literature and film - the old myths are constantly being retold
through different channels and guises. We tend to spent a great
deal of time digging up the myths of crumbling or dead cultures
and, as often as not, projecting dreams and fantasies about how
we would like the world we live in to be, onto them. Both the
past and the far-flung future are infinitely malleable, but what
about the now - the future that’s just around the corner?

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Social Wounds
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of using a shamanic approach
in a modern setting is getting to grips with the complexities of
living and working in the urban environment. We’ve hardly
begun to understand how living in cities affects us from a psychic
point of view, although the experience of ‘anomie’ or rootlessness
is well-documented. Our cities are spawning-grounds for spirits
of many different natures, from the very real demons such as
poverty, despair, and frustration to the elementals arising from
the tangles of electrical cables and heavy industrial areas. It is
probably easier to get a grip on cities if we regard them as
living entities; immensely complex systems in which we are just
one indwelling organism. An initial problem with getting to the
feel of such a place is that it takes time to do this; time to put
down roots and feelers so that you can extend your perception
into the streets and roads and learn to sense the cities’ pulse -
how it changes according to the seasons, and how it responds to
the subtle mood changes in its resident populations. The city
grows from generations upon generations of experience - which
don’t fade away, but become embedded in its collective psyche.
A building is torn down, and another grows in its place, leaving
the ghost of the old to linger in memories and archive
The city nurtures us and crushes us at the same time. We can
seek escape routes by taking our magick into the hills, or by
creating inner-world spaces in the safety of our own homes, but
the cityscape returns us to paramount reality, with the routines
of everyday life and the dependence on others for the services
which allow us to live in varying degrees of security. Many of
us live in cities with an attitude of necessary sufferance,
dreaming of escape. Nature invades and adapts itself to the
cityscape - weeds push up through cracks in the concrete; dog-
packs collect on the estates. Loose ‘communities’ and cliques
arise and fall as the different social strata constantly shift across
time. The psyche of a city can be terrifying - vast, constantly
changing; slow, yet its moods are perceptible. It’s difficult enough
to establish empathy with our fellow humans - how do we come
to terms with these vast beings through which we move each
In non-industrial cultures, the ‘power’ of the shamanic
practitioner may sometimes be inherently bound up with an
individual’s ‘territory’ - be it a village or sacred ground. After
living in Leeds for three years, I’m starting to feel this sort of
affection for the city. Sometimes I can’t wait to escape from its
embrace - it’s nice to wander around, but I’m beginning to feel
affinity with the entity which is Leeds itself, even though I’ve
only come to know a small part of it with any sense of familiarity.
Much of this awareness grows over time - getting to know a
place, but I sometimes find it useful to let my awareness wander
through the streets in the form of a cat or bird, exploring the
innerworld map of the city in my head, and then to wander
through the different areas, trying to sense the dominant moods
and histories that settle like sediment in the under-levels.
Perhaps one of the key tasks for would-be shamans living in
cities is to try and make sense of we live in them. A mammoth
task, certainly, but worthwhile if we can develop a magical
methodology which is able to come to grips with the complexities
of city life, and look at the magical properties of that
environment. For me, this is a very slow process of feeling my
way through territory which is familiar surroundings, yet there
are few guidelines to work from. One of the first questions that
I tried to get to grips with was, is it possible to magically affect
the collective psyche of a city, or a particular region? Since areas
can be ‘scarred’, for example by disasters such as occurred at
Hillsborough in Sheffield, or by economic decline, is it possible
to try and heal the scars, if only fractionally? Such scars of course
have far-reaching effects for the people involved, but the
wounding seems also to permeate the whole area. Another
example of this is estates which have been built upon sites where
a large battle has taken place - I visited one such estate in the

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Midlands where there was a seemingly high proportion of
psychic turbulence - people reporting all kinds of psychic
phenomena, from UFO sightings to ghosts and houses which
could not be tenanted because of the disturbing atmosphere.
Areas which have fallen into disuse are often closely associated
with the appearance of strange beings, and John Keele, in his
book Strange Creatures from Time and Space gives some intriguing
accounts which seem to confirm this observation.
The term ‘community’ is difficult to pin down, as it gets used in
so many different contexts, often by those who wish to project
the message that a particular group of people have shared
concerns, regardless of how they might themselves perceive the
situation. One tends to be cynical about hearing ‘authorities’
talking about ‘community spirit’, but much more accepting of
one’s contemporaries. For me, community arises from a sense
of being in a particular network of relations, where people have
a consensus of shared concerns and viewpoints, and collude
with each other to maintain them. This can range from everyday
survival concerns, to evolving a distinct, but often very subtle,
set of mores about how individuals interact with each other.
You can see this happening when you enter a new community
for the first time - it’s very easy to make social gaffs, before you
are accepted and treated like anyone else in the area. Often,
‘community’ can be used to imply that everyone in a particular
group shares common values, and it’s easy to forget that that
within the network of social relations, individuals don’t usually
share all the same views on all issues. This can be seen very
clearly when people who are perceived as being a part of a
distinct community gather together, and, surprise surprise,
arguments break out over particular issues. Usually, communities
are much more complex than we like to think.
In the previous section of this book I looked at some of the
roles that a shamanic practitioner might fulfil in an urban
community, the emphasis being on working with individuals.
Another approach that I have admittedly only begun to look at
is workings for particular communities as a whole, in a similar
way that a tribal shaman can work for her or his tribal group.
Last year (summer ’89) brought a heat-wave to the community
in which I live, and as the temperature climbed there was a
rising spiral of violent or potentially-violent incidences against
women in the area, plus a surge of homophobia. Several of us
discussed a possible magical approach to counteracting this trend,
which resulted in a ritual to unleash ‘the Furies’ - a group of
female spirits whose action is to constrain oppressive males
(originally from the Greek mythos). Essentially, the ritual was a
highly concentrated vortex of energy which allowed the Furies
into the collective consciousness of women across Leeds. The
rite served to enabled the women involved to articulate and
direct their anger about oppressive male behaviour, so that the
energy was channeled into the rite, rather than being held within
and repressed (which is highly stressful). Liberating anger in
this way can be healing in itself. In the weeks that followed the
working, we heard of several cases of women turning upon
men who were oppressing them, and the spate of local incidents
dropped also.
The Scream
This is an anger-channeling exercise which was worked out as
part of the Furies working, which should give you some idea of
the approach to this kind of magickal work.
“Imagine yourself to be all-woman, from every culture, in every country,
throughout all the ages, down throughout the centuries, all faces, all
ages, all races, gathering your anger at oppression, and shouting that you
have had enough and are not taking ANY MORE SHIT!”
As the energy is not directed at specific individuals, it becomes
‘free energy’ (or pure Will) which can be magically directed,
causing a ripple across the collective psyche of the group
concerned. As noted above, this redirection of anger can, for
those concerned, be beneficial, since it releases energy which is
otherwise contained within the BodyMind as stress and

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frustration. It also serves to demonstrate the power of the
focused will to bring about change. On a personal level, the
Furies rite damn near wasted all of us, and took months to get
over - but we feel it was worth it.
‘Traditional’ approaches to magick tend to focus on bringing
about change to one individual, or one particular aspect of a
situation. At the moment I’m trying to work with situations -
which requires looking dispassionately at the different elements
in an evolving situation; divining probable outcomes, and
deciding at what point, and most importantly, how to intervene
magically - if indeed such is required at all. I’m often asked to
become involved with developing situations, and occasionally,
find myself ‘hanging back’ for no apparent reason. I find
following my intuition on such occasions usually leads to me
finding out why it isn’t a good idea to become involved, at least
in the manner initially indicated. Sometimes its better to wait
(for more information to turn up) than go rushing in - you can
easily end up making the situation worse than it already is.
A witch is a rebel in physics and a rebel is a witch in politics.
Thomas Vaughan, Anthrosophia Theomagica, 1650.
In the 1930’s, Wilhelm Reich, observing the battle between
communist Left and fascist Right, observed that the problem
the Left had in gaining mass appeal was that it gave an Intellectual
answer to life’s problems. Unable to move beyond the level of
material changes (jobs, housing, wages), it lacked a sense of
Cosmogeny (a total reality) as a backdrop. In contrast, Reich
saw that the fascists understood the necessity for a mythological
dimension to their political gatherings. For it is by appealing to
the mythic world of experience that social reality may be
manipulated. The Nazi party made constant and efficient use
of symbolism, myth, and powerful emotive ideals to project
their visions into the mass mind of German culture. Of course,
it is not wholly responsible for the fascist’s rise to power, but its
importance is often neglected when one approaches the modern
political arena.
The British Nationalist Party for example, are a good example
of a political group well aware of magick (if only unconsciously).
They are mimetic, sending tendrils into any kind of situation
which will feed them - Green Politics, Paganism, The Campaign
to save Leeds Markets - all issues which have a direct, emotional
appeal. They are further reinforced by the Meme (viral idea) of
Xenophobia, and it’s mutation of anti-intellectualism - the virtue
of stupidity. These viral ideas are as unpleasant as head colds,
and about as difficult to shift. The xenophobe is an old meme,
old to the extent that it is embedded within the minds of a great
many people, to the extent that it’s natural to hold these beliefs
- to act this way, as both history and culture justify it. Images are
reflected and reinforced through our everyday experience, until

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the BNP member feels that he has God, Nature, and “His
Country” on his side. Which to some extent, he has. History is
not only the passage of time and the unfolding of events - it is
also the breeding ground for mythic images too. And we should
know by now that history lies, depending upon through who’s
mouth it is being spoken. Symbols retain their power over time,
especially when set against a mythological backdrop.
Word Viruses
The purpose of any virus is to survive by replication of itself
throughout the cells of its host organism. The Word Virus is a
very small unit of word or image that entraps the energy of its
human host into recycling an instruction or behaviour pattern.
Ever walked around, unable to get a popular tune out of your
head? Advertising, slogans, jingles, words and images are all
carriers for the parasitic virus. Likewise harmful gossip, and of
course political ideas (and behaviours) which perpetuate a
particular set of power relationships. As Ghandi pointed out,
the problem is not people, but the attitudes that they maintain,
which can be understood, from a magical perspective, as viral
entities. ...Getting even, being Right, holding onto to
power...viruses which infect and corrupt the collective psyche
of human beings, and are difficult to counter by intellectual or
emotional argument alone. A developing magical approach is
to explore ways of countering these viruses directly, as an
alternative (or support) to other counteractive strategies. Some
people tend to shy away from political magick, but since the
Seventeenth century, magick has had a close association with
the political struggle for freedom.
Political magick, for me, is a matter of ground zero politics -
that is, survival against oppressive institutions and viruses. The
first Heal the Earth working drew its inspiration from Starhawk’s
Dreaming the Dark, which draws together political issues and a
magical approach to regaining power, and opposing oppressive
structures without falling back into the power-games through
which they are maintained. Again, individual empowerment is
the key issue - finding within ourselves the power to act effectively
and thereby make a difference, and to pool energies collectively
without the need to spawn new political viruses which can, over
time, become structures that are just as repressive to the spirit as
those that they claim to be fighting.
Out Demon Out
The idea of ‘cursing’ is generally regarded as dubious ground
on which to tread. If you believe in individual free will (surely
a fundamental pagan belief ?) then any attempt to gain ‘power
over’ another individual is not only contradictory, but also
devalues yourself. Most cases of cursing that I have come across
are related to petty arguments and desires to maintain control
over a situation which has changed in a way that the people
involved are emotionally unequipped to deal with. However, it
should be pointed out that in some cultures, cursing is seen as a
valid approach to resolving problems. Techniques of cursing
seem to be most highly developed in cultures which have
suffered from repression from a more powerful group, and are
otherwise unable to articulate and recover their power. This is
one of the shamanic roles which has received scant attention,
apart from some Feminist writers who have looked at ways of
constraining and binding rapists. Modern approaches to this
kind of magick have generated the tactic of cursing institutions
rather than individuals, an example of this being Pagans against
the Poll Tax.
Pagans Against the Poll Tax
This is an anonymously-circulated document which sets out
guidelines for magically countering the Poll Tax. The basic idea
is that the exchange of money is a form of energy transfer which
has very powerful associations - being one of the basic roots of
our society. An old wart-charmer’s trick is to ‘buy’ warts off a
sufferer and transfer them somewhere else. The Poll Tax curse
is a blank cheque where the user signs using a magickal persona,
writes in appropriate sigils instead of money, and ‘pays’ the
targeted authority a ‘problem’ which will disrupt the
implementation of Poll Tax collection, such as ‘six months of
computer trouble’. Computers are particularly sensitive to
magically-generated interference, and one group of magicians

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claimed to have momentarily disrupted television transmissions.
Posting off the cheque activates the curse.
The arguments against such acts revolve around the question
of ‘do you have the right to do that?’ and also the view that
such politically-active acts will reinforce the view that occultists
and pagans are evil. Essentially, this is a matter for each individual
to consider, but consider this; being on the receiving end of
repression and not being able to do anything about it can grind
you down awfully quickly. Likewise, Starhawk’s magicopolitical
writing came out of the Seventies, before eco-action was seen
as acceptable. Morever, you can’t expect freedom and acceptance
from a power structure that survives by perpetuating limitations
and intolerance. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of third-world
shamans who are engaged in magical action against forest-
burners, land developers and low-flying military aircraft which
threaten their way of life. The Emerald Forest explored such a
stance, with its final scene of a dam being destroyed by tribal
earth magick. Peasants in the Middle Ages often resorted to
poppets and pins to strike back at oppressive landowners.
The Furies working I mentioned in the previous section can
also be considered as a ‘curse’ - against violence and oppression
by one section of society against others. It was perhaps, an
extreme situation which demanded, so we felt, extreme action.
But if we must curse at all, surely it is better to try and change
oppressive structures and ideas; to attempt to destroy the demons
bred of fear, ignorance, hatred and repression than leave them
to wander across the world unchecked? For something to grow,
whether it be an individual, an institution, or a culture, sometimes
it is necessary to destroy the psychic structures by which the
entity maintains itself in a limited space - a fortress, if you will,
of fixed beliefs, dogmas, and entrenched attitudes. Sometimes
these fortresses cannot be unbricked by rational argument and
gentle persuasion - especially when whatever is lurking inside
them is trying to crush you (whether with boots, bureaucracy or
by removing your freedom to act). Sometimes a psychic assault
is necessary - like suddenly finding a back entrance into the
fortress which allows you to show the occupant(s) the demons
of their minds which they have rejected and shied away from.
Confronting your inner demons is never pleasant, whether
willingly or unwillingly, but is a part of growth.

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Looking to the Future?
Shamanism is the oldest form of magical practice - and the
recent upsurge of interest in its various forms has led to many
developments as Westerners attempt to ‘borrow’ various
concepts and techniques, and utilise them, with various degrees
of success, in the modern world. It should also be stressed that
these techniques are continually being updated and developed,
as individuals are attracted to the shamanic perspective from
different backgrounds and interests. We have seen the resurgence
of shamanism in all forms, from the ‘historical’ traditions such
as Celtic, Amerind, Nordic, Finnish and Aboriginal Shamanic
approaches, to the New Age formulations ‘channelled’ from
spirit guides or dolphins. Shamanism contains both an effective
psycho-technology and an positive life ethic, and is malleable
enough to be adapted to differing situations and requirements.
Shamanic techniques and concepts can also be found lurking
in many modern institutions, from sports psychology to
management training; alternative therapies to drama training.
Sometimes, I have the impression that shamanic techniques are
in danger of becoming ‘sanitised’ - that the magical essentials
of shamanic practice are being edged out as the ‘shamanic’
self-improvement manuals stream out of the publishing houses.
So too, I am becoming increasingly wary of those who rush to
label themselves as shamans. As I hope I’ve demonstrated in
this book, it’s by no means an easy label to live up to, and
personally, I would say that though I spend a great deal of time
using ‘shamanic techniques’, I don’t see myself as a shaman -
that, for me, is a glamour to be avoided.
As far as future developments in shamanic practice go, I would
like to see more exploration of what the implications of using
shamanic techniques in the big cities might be. In a future
volume I will be looking at the various forms of ‘Technological
Shamanism’ - experiments with computers, video, electronic
music, light effects and also the ‘fringe cultures’ of tattooing
and body modification. I’d like to think that the future is open
enough so that developments in all approaches to shamanic
practice can grow - and possibly grow together. The essentials
of magical experience and praxis are similar, no matter what
symbols and words we wrap them up in, and once you’ve got to
grips with one particular approach or technique, it’s easier to
learn another. Of course, deciding what next to incorporate in
your approach to practice is a matter of personal taste and
judgement. Increasingly, I find that virtually any life skill can be
useful, whether it is information-based, a practical creative skill,
or a set of magical techniques from a particular system.
Personally, I hold the view that the idea of separate traditions
and systems belongs to another age. Whilst training as an
Occupational Therapist, I was taught to approach situations and
deploy a battery of techniques and approaches that were most
effective in that situation, and I approach shamanic practice in
a similar fashion, drawing from my past experience and
knowledge, and selecting what seems to me the best approach
given the circumstances. I would find this difficult to do if I
only worked within a single ‘tradition’ - since the world generally
offers up a wider variety of problems that any one approach
can deal with. And we live in an increasingly complex world
where perhaps, no single individual can cope with taking on
the many different roles that the shamanic perspective
encompasses. Knowing other people who are working from
different perspectives, concentrating on different areas of work
is increasingly important. We need more dialogue between
different practitioners; a dialogue which transcends personal
differences and the wariness which comes from not understanding
(or appreciating) the validity of another person’s approach.
Growth comes from the cross-fertilisation of ideas, and the
healthy exchange of views. We need to be able to assess
ourselves, both as developing individuals and in terms of the
techniques and approaches that we are wielding. From this will
grow new forms of shamanic practice to take us into the next

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I find it difficult to cut what I do into easily-assimilated chunks
for other people. This book has thus been a reflection on the
uses to which I’ve put shamanic techniques so far, and the areas
which I feel are worthy of further exploration. Again I would
stress that this is a personal account of my own experiences
which have grown from particular events and situations. I’m
not trying to create a definite ‘system’ of shamanic practice,
and though I welcome feedback & discussion on anything I
have written in this and the previous two books, I don’t regard
myself as a ‘teacher’ of shamanic techniques and any such
correspondence should take this into account.
The two essays following were written around the same time
as this series of booklet.

A Collection of Sacred Magick | The Esoteric Library |
“In a labyrinth of metaphor and words, intuition is lost, therefore
without their effort must be learned the truth about one’s self from
him who alone knows the truth.....yourself.”
Austin Osman Spare
Power is hard to find. And when you do find it, it’s hard to hold
onto. It creates tensions. But well, that sort of comes with the
job. Power only comes at great cost. It makes its own demands
on you, so that you can make demands back. Balance comes in
making sure there’s a more or less equal trade-off.
Power lights you up like a candle. And any candle in the
darkness attracts moths. People will either do their damnedness
to try and take your power away from you (then spit on your
carcass afterwards) or they will try and surrender their power
to you. Neither is particularly pleasant, and both can be very
insiduous. Some are addicted to power. Some are addicted to
giving their power away. Many want the gains without any
pain, or don’t want to leave the safety of bright light and barriers.
But power growls to itself in the darkness, dangerous as a
wounded tax inspector.
You’ll need to chase power, to prove to it you’re on the
level. Doesn’t really matter how. You can hang nine days on
the world-tree. You can lie watching galaxies drift as a near-
O.D of homemade speed bores holes in your neocortex.
Doesn’t really matter. Bucky Fuller found his whilst poised to
throw himself off the Golden Gate bridge. Lucky Bucky - he
made it. Most don’t.
Power corrupts. An old adage that. But who does it corrupt?
Not only them who has it, but them who’s jealous of them who
has it. Them who’s too lazy or fearful to chase it for themselves.
You may have met one, you may even have been one. The
Spiritual people. The “I-have-conquered-my-ego” people.
Who don’t drink, smoke, fight, fuck or talk dirty. Psychic
fascism is on the move within this not-so green and pleasant
land of Albion. I can’t cut all this impeccable warrior stuff
you know. Recall I saw Apocalypse Now in Israel, where
you can’t walk very far down the road without seeing some
kind of military hardware. A friend I made there,(one of
Mr.Begin’s charioteers) offered me a game of Russian Roulette.
The added frisson he said, was that the bullets in his ageing
revolver didn’t always go off. He wasn’t a warrior anymore
and I certainly wasn’t looking to be impeccable. Two days later
he bled to death when a buried AP-mine took his leg off.
After which I could never take serious any kind of “......warrior”
trip. Call yourself a warrior and one day you will end up on
the business end of something sharp and unyielding. End of
But I digress. Contrary to popular opinion there are very few
fixed rules where power is concerned. The wanting of it can be
an ache in the gut which sends you scrambling for books,
mindfucks, teachers, talismans and cosmic crystals. We are
hooked into believing in secret knowledge. Get a foot in the
door and start chasing dreams. There are no easy routes into
power. You can’t hitch a lift down highway 666.
The usage of it is even worse. Someone will always brand
you a “Black Magician”, ‘specially if you start asking too
many awkward questions. Take the other week, this guy I
hardly know rings up to ask (politely) if I’d been cursing him!
But why bother cursing people when you can have their arms
broken instead? (I know this impeccable warrior, see....)
He almost sounded disappointed after I’d finished laughing
down the phone.
I spent Beltane with Vishvanath. With a cheap bottle of plonk
for libations we invoked Pan in the Leeds green belt. The dawn
was very fine indeed, the university towers veiled in mist.
Leeds crouched beneath our feet like some great grey leviathan
about to flex its muscles. We live in a magical universe. Where
nothing is true, and everything is possible. Or so they say.

A Collection of Sacred Magick | The Esoteric Library |
Once power finds you, you’ll try to duck it, like as not.
Once it finds you, then you have to admit you’ve got it.
Hedge around and you only diminish yourself. Worse, you
can really burn others without realising it. Power brings
its own responsibilities. And sadnesses. But what is it some
will ask. To define it is to lessen it. And lose it in the process.
Either you’ll know soon enough, or you’ll never need to.
“It is not in my mind to ask questions which cannot be answered.
That is the soul standing upon the crossroad of vacillation. You search
for wisdom, but achieve only a stasis of will.”
Adeptus Astartes Proverb
I wrote this peice late one night, whilst a storm howled about
the house. Sitting in silence, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a
storm-spirit, and named it Azg. I ‘rode’ Azg into shaman-time,
and upon leaving, these words began to flow of themselves.
Shamanic magick relies heavily upon personal Gnosis, the
‘sense’ of it cannot be transmitted by the written word. It wells
up from the Deep Mind, or it crashes down from the skies as
streaks of white lightning. A casual gesture by my teacher-lover
hurls me down a corridor of dilated irises, to a plain where
dreams are flayed and laid out in fields of blue ice. I am word-
heavy and cannot dance, until the storm comes and whirls them
Gnosis - knowledge of the heart - can only be felt or
halfglimpsed. Words reflect only secondhand daylight. I = (;
Azg = ): () rides the storm. () are space. You cannot take words
into space.
Shamanism predates words, being born first in gesture and
the twistings of the body. Feeble in birth and death; sinuous in
sex. This physical language speaks directly to the Deep Mind.
Hands, eyes, feet are most eloquent when words have been
Next came poetry, the structure of rhythm and cadence; poetry
of motion, image, sound and form. Poetry as dance and music.
Words are not nimble enough. Then came the pictorial image,
glyphs and symbols; picture-writing.
Nowadays we live amongst words to the extent that the physical
language has become mysterious to us. Azg tears the words
from my throat and ... I read the patterns of wordless knowledge;
in the rattling of an iron gate; the spray of rain across my
window; the dull ache of a tooth. Words imprison the body,
obscuring the dance. The shaman dances, free of words.

A Collection of Sacred Magick | The Esoteric Library |
Words bind us into Time. Traditions can only be passed down
when words can be formed. The shaman does not write
“committing” thoughts into words; my thoughts scream like
caged jackdaws when I order them. Visions are notoriously
unruly. Shaman has few words but many dances. Join me in the
dance and it becomes yours.
Tradition = time progression; transmission of words. Shaman-
time is cyclic, not linear. There is no past to hide the future from
the present. In shaman-time there are no Gods, no well-mapped
paths, no systems, no tattered beliefs hoarded by scribbling
devotees. You have your body, and the world full of fellow-
dancers. Such guides as there are, are nameless; formless, to be
half-glimpsed or sensed as fleeting images. They may have
names, but you will not find them in any book, indeed they are
but titles or honours that you must find the wit to offer them,
and risk their wild laughter. There is only one book; the world,
but only you can discover how to read it.
Shaman always plays to the audience, be it clan, community
or allies. The pupil always knows she is ready when she can
out-dance the teacher. We live within Time; the dance may carry
us outside its spirals. Do this by breaking the addiction cycle of
words. You cannot take words into space and the shaman needs
space to dance.

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